Infantibus

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Principio quis nescit primam hominis aetatem multo laetissimam multoque omnibus gratissimam esse? quid est enim illud in infantibus, quod sic exosculamur, sic amplectimur, sic fovemus, ut hostis etiam huic aetati ferat opem, nisi stultitiae lenocinium, quod data opera prudens natura recens natis adiunxit, ut aliquo voluptatis velut autoramento et educantium labores delinire queant et tuentium favores eblandiantur? deinde quae succedit huic adolescentia, quam est apud omnes gratiosa, quam illi candide favent omnes, quam studiose provehunt, quam officiose porrigunt auxiliares manus! at unde quaeso ista iuventae gratia? unde nisi ex me? cuius beneficio quam minimum sapit atque ob id quam minime ringitur.
(Erasmus, Moriae Encomium LB4.413)

First of all, who does not know that the earliest period of a man’s life is by far the happiest for him and by far the most pleasant for all about him? What is it in children, that we should kiss them the way we do, and cuddle them, and fondle them – so that even an enemy would give aid to one of that age – except this enchantment of folly, which prudent nature carefully bestows on the newly born; so that by this pleasure, as a sort of prepayment, they win the favor of their nurses and parents and make these forget the pains of bringing them up. After this comes adolescence. How welcome it is in every home! How well everyone wishes it! How studiously does everyone promote it, how officiously they lend it the helping hand! But, I ask, whence comes this grace of youth? Whence but from me, by whose favor the young know so little-and how lightly worn is that little! (tr. Hoyt Hopewell Hudson)

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